Coffin factory workers likely to strike into new year

Unite staff on the picket line
About 50 staff at the Funeralcare facility have resorted to industrial action

By Lucy Ashton

A pay dispute between coffin makers and Co-operative Funeralcare looks set to stretch into the new year.

Workers at the company’s only manufacturing site at Govan, Glasgow, have begun a new four-day walkout.

Unite union has accused the Co-op of a “Scrooge-like attitude” towards staff and wants CEO Shirine Khoury-Haq to step in.

The employer said it was disappointed Unite had not balloted its members on its last offer.

Willie Thomson, the union’s industrial officer, said: “The actions of Co-operative Funeralcare have been found lacking any Christmas spirit.

“The Co-operative values of a different, fairer and better way of doing business have been replaced with a Scrooge-like attitude to the current cost of living crisis our members face.

“Management would rather fork out cash to other coffin suppliers in the hope of breaking our members’ resolve, than to put a fraction of that money towards solving this dispute.”

He claimed the continued actions of Co-operative Funeralcare were bad ethically, managerially and economically.

Mr Thomson added: “It’s time for their group CEO, Shirine Khoury-Haq, to become personally involved and negotiate a resolution.

“The current actions of Funeralcare continue to tarnish the reputation of not only the Funeralcare side of the business but the wider Co-op Group.”

A spokesperson for Co-op said the company was disappointed to be facing further strike action relating to pay from colleagues in its coffin factory, particularly given a recent improved pay offer.

The Co-op Funeralcare picket line
The Co-op Funeralcare picket line in October

They said: “We were disappointed that Unite chose not to even ballot their members on this offer.

“As a major national employer of almost 60,000 colleagues that is facing into high inflation and increased costs, we have worked hard to balance the requests from our 59 employees at the coffin factory with our wider colleague population.

“The colleagues at our coffin factory are highly valued. They have received annual pay increases, and production bonuses.”

The spokesperson added the offer had been made at a time the business has had to make some “tough decisions” in terms of reducing roles.

They also encouraged staff at the coffin factory to give the proposals their full consideration and for Unite to ballot their members upon the offer that remains on the table.

The dispute involves about 50 workers at the Govan factory and has been going for three months.

The union has warned that more walkouts are likely next year.

Factory workers rejected a pay offer of 4% for 2022 and 5% for 2023.

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